Bhela's name is very often given as Bheda by Vagbhata and Dalhana. This interchange of 'd' and 'l' however is authorized by ancient usage. Agnivesa and Bhela had the same master or Guru hence we find great similarity in their work. But Bhela Samhita is more concise and there is more prose in it than in Agnivesa's treatise.
Native of Bhela
Bhela Samhita, though is fragmentary and mutilated , must be studied by scholars with great care, as many new terms, similes, concepts and there is greater details of some subjects, which will throw more light on medical history. Frequent references to Gandhara i. e. modern Kandhar in his work lead us to infer that he was a resident of that country.
As Bhela was a co-student of Agnivesa, his Samhita was composed at the same time. Thus the Bhela Samhita is of great help to us in differentiating Agnivesa's original work from the later redactions of Caraka and Drdhabala.
The Bhela Samhita seems to be of very old composition. Unfortunately, the treatise is incomplete and mutilated. Many portions are missing from between. The text is full of scribe's errors. The book is considered to be old even by Vagbhata and is spoken of reverentially by him.
In the Janapada-vibhaktiya chapter we find new terms applicable to fevers in animals. In the same chapter he gives an interesting description of the countries and their peculiar diseases.
Redactions of Bhela Samhita
It seems that no redaction was done on Bhela's original treatise. But some of the quotations of Bhela given by later authors are not found in the treatise available now. This can lead us to one of the conclusions that either the portion quoted by later authors was not found in the treatise, or has been lost, or that some earlier redaction might have been done.
Manuscript of Bhela Samhita
Only one manuscript of Bhela Samhita is known to exist. It is in the Tanjore Library No. 10773. Telugu and Devanagari manuscripts are believed to have been written. The Tanjore library manuscript was written about 1650 A. D. apparently copied from an injured Old manuscript.
Bhela described eight varieties of sedation. But Caraka gives 13 varieties. So it seems Agnivesa must have described only 8 kinds and five more were added during the redaction by Caraka. The Bhela Samhita was considered to be a book of great merit for long as proved by numerous quotations and references to him in medical works separated by centuries.
- It is referred as Burnell's catalogue.
- The Caraka Samhita published by Shree Gulabkunverba Ayurvedic Society, Jamnagar, India